Why We’re Building an Earthbag Stemwall

Gravel bag stemwall built by Ziggy, author of Year of Mud blog
Gravel bag stemwall built by Ziggy, author of Year of Mud blog

“The small off-grid home we’re helping friends build here in the Appalachian foothills is getting a bunch of work done to it recently. The biggest task of the moment is building the earthbag stemwall, which we need to finish before our upcoming Straw Bale Workshop in July. We opted for an earthbag stemwall due to the availability of appropriate materials, the relative ease of construction, and the unique siting of the house. All things considered, I think going the earthbag route has been a good choice.

They are low cost, require less time to complete, and frankly they’re easier to work with than other comparable choices. Outside inputs are either low (the amount of total plastic is not significant) or readily available and abundant (gravel for fill from a local quarry, and clay from the site itself.) Note too that we’re building straw bale walls on top of the earthbags (with a toe-up between the two). These two methods are a good match as well.”

More at the source: Year of Mud blog

3 thoughts on “Why We’re Building an Earthbag Stemwall”

  1. I think this is an awesome way to build.
    Deck and roof
    Gravel bag stem wall then strawbale — outside of posts —

    This method keeps you, your tools, your materials, your friends and family out of the weather. It keeps your bales under roof and eave. When done, interior posts are thermally broken, won’t rot like a post and beam infill, will leave awesome points of attachment for shelving, counters, interior walls, joists, rafters, etc. It is a smart way to strawbale for a diy’er as it isn’t load bearing and doesn’t rely on proper bale compression. It is also easier to pound walls flat before plaster work. Also, a decent builder could be hired out to frame for a real novice diy’er.
    I think that I like this method :)

    • It seems like one of the best over all sustainable building methods. You didn’t mention super insulation values. Just be sure the roof overhangs are large enough to protect the bales, and make sure the stem wall is high enough that the bales don’t get wet from snow or rain.


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